Kelly Lamrock takes you on the Ultimate Vegas Strip Drink Crawl…
When I arrive in Vegas, the first thing I do is go for a walk. There isn’t so much one place on the Strip I need to go, it’s the Strip itself. Taking in the atmosphere, the feeling of freedom, and the variety is what makes me feel I’ve arrived in one of my happy cities. If I have a friend who hasn’t been, the Strip crawl is even more important. And judging by what others post here, I’m not alone – strolling the Strip and just doing what you feel like in the moment is one of the joys of Vegas.
What I thought I’d do in this article is find one quick comestible in each Strip property that you could sit and enjoy as you get a first taste of Vegas. I haven’t worried about time or mixing liquors here, because I’m not proposing this as something you must do all at once or in any order. You can pick it up anywhere and do as much or as little as you like. The point is to share some great little moments that I love and try to capture that feeling of having so many options before you in Vegas.
So, mentally join me at the South of the Strip and let’s start one of the happiest walks on earth.
Mandalay Bay: Lots of good choices here. I’d steer you to Red Square for a unique vodka amidst Soviet propaganda, but I’m avoiding full-service restaurants here and sticking to moments you can take in and keep moving – seats at bars and quick service bites. So head for the Shoppes and grab a margarita at Hussong’s Cantina – with a real bite of tequila and lime, and not the sweet frozen variety you’ll see everywhere. This is done old-school, and it’s bracing and cold and strong and everything a Vegas drink should be.
And you’re already on your way to our next stop….
Luxor: As I put this list together, I found lobby bars coming to the top of mind often. These are often overlooked, but they are great spots for casino hopping. The resort often tries to make its lobby bar take on a feel that captures the resort, and so they often have little touches that make them unique. At Luxor, I love grabbing a drink at Aurora under their sparkling ceiling lights, designed to make you feel like you are under the stars of the Aurora Borealis. I’m not qualified to say how close the astrology is, but the effect is pretty cool. If you try one of the house drinks named for resort attractions, like the “Carrot Top”, you’ll be happy. Equally so if you have a beer – this is an atmosphere-based call.
Excalibur is not really a resort for craft cocktails, but I applaud its willingness to have a theme and commit to casual, unpretentious fun. I like the way the moving sidewalk runs you uphill as if entering a castle to great fanfare. Take it up, turn right, and go to the bar at Dick’s Last Resort. If you want a frozen cocktail, grab a “Dick Stick”, or go with some well-made and better-named cocktails off the house menu. The Hillbilly Shootout is made with moonshine and tastes good enough to belie the kickstart it’ll give ya.
New York New York: You could easily stop at Pour 24 at the upper level and choose from a fine selection of beers as you gaze over the casino floor and its Times Square feel. You can also head down to The Chocolate Bar outside the Hershey’s store and get a martini themed after one of their chocolate bars. None are bad, but I find the York Peppermint Patty to be the most faithful to the candy experience. If you’re hungry, the fake NYC streetscape has some nice counter service food. Sirricos will give you a credible New York slice, especially with their sausage topping.
Monte Carlo: My favourite little resort is losing a lot of its most charming places as MGM prepares to turn it into a bland extension of the adjacent arena. So I can’t send you to The Pub, which is a loss, or Andre’s Cigar Lounge, which I miss. But the Ignite Lounge, the lobby bar as you come in, makes a little drink called a Watermelon Sage Caprihana. It has fresh herbs and real melon purée, and you should drink one, gaze at the evolution of change, and thank me. And if you wanna stop at BLVD Creamery and have a cone or a boozy shake while sitting on one of those so-whimsical-it-works milk jug stools, don’t expect me to dissuade you.
Aria has a lobby bar that is beautifully laid out – comfy leather seats, fast service, bright, open look – and it is a nice spot to take in the casino area. They do classic cocktails well, so I’m going to suggest an Old-Fashioned, a nibble on the snack mix they’ll bring you, and a moment to celebrate the fact that you made it here.
Bellagio has a theme, and that theme is money. You feel it as you walk around and take in the old European feel. If you’re going to feel like you belong, pull up a wing chair at Petrossian Lounge and forget the prices for a minute – you need to feel like a guy who doesn’t need to look. If you arrive in time for tea, do it. The pastries and sandwiches are fantastic. If you miss tea, that’s fine – order yourself a Grey Goose martini and forget the cost for a minute. This is how you truly take in the atmosphere here.
Caesars Palace has no shortage of bars with great visuals, and you could order a drink at Vista or Cleopatra’s Barge, and instantly find a unique Vegas site. For the best moment, though, I will send you someplace unsurprising if you’ve read my aarticles– Casa Fuentes Cigar Lounge. You can sit on the faux patio, have a handmade mojito with great ingredients – and feel for a minute like you are Ernest Hemingway in Cuba. Have a blood orange mojito and a smoke and feel very, very lucky.
The Mirage Rhumbar has a fantastic terrace for people watching and relaxing in the tropical theme that defines the classic resort. Grab some comfortable wicker and order a Zombie, the rum drink that can beat up your usual rum drink.
Treasure Island has traded its goofy pirate theme for the blandness of a CVS, and that isn’t good. Yet it still has some bars and restaurants that offer the informal fun that used to permeate the resort. You can’t really see the pirate ship anymore, but the patio at Señor Frog’s also has Strip views and if you order a margarita of some kind, you’ll pass a nice half hour on this stop.
I give you permission to skip Circus Circus if you aren’t having dinner at The Steakhouse. What’s that? You’re hardcore and need to hit them all? OK, fine…something for Circus Circus….hit Vince Neil’s Tatuado, get a seat that lets you look at the tour bus and drink something strong enough to not mind the walk out of Circus Circus.
Next, we cross the street and head south down the other side!
[Photos: Michael Movestro, Excalibur, Angie Movestro]